Novel of the week
Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne Hogarth 304pp £14.99
“Lawrence Osborne writes thrillers about affluent Western Europeans who accidentally encounter the rest of the suffering world,” said Deborah Levy in the Financial Times. In his latest, set on the Greek island of Hydra, two privileged young women befriend each other while holidaying with their families. On a deserted beach, they discover a Syrian refugee, Faoud, whom they persuade to commit an “Oedipal crime” which will help him escape to mainland Europe. Holding readers “in his thrall”, Osborne offers an “unsentimental critique of the contemporary world in crisis”.
This is a “vaguely silly, vaguely profound and extremely enjoyable” book, said Sam Kitchener in Literary Review. Osborne “manages suspense with great skill”, while taking “care to note every shot of ouzo or tsipouro that passes his characters’ lips”. For all that it is atmospheric, some of the writing in Beautiful Animals is affected by an “air of ramshackle improvisation”, said Robert Douglas-Fairhurst in The Times. “The result is strangely unnerving”; weird, but mostly “successful”.